One of the benefits of observing homeschoolers for many years before I was blessed with a child is that I had the opportunity to read lots and lots of articles and blogs posts written by moms who shared their mistakes. They wrote of the things they wished they could do over, what they would change, their regrets, etc. I took those pieces very much to heart and so I’ve tried to be purposeful in not getting too caught up in the things that don’t matter.
What has challenged me more than anything was trying to understand my own child, her personality and her learning style. Although we share many similarities, we are also different in some profound ways. Caroline is very much a right-brained learner. (For more info about this, see The Right Side of Normal: Understanding and Honoring the Natural Learning Path for Right-Brained Children.)
I have to literally think differently about time, how she learns, what she does well, what she struggles with, etc. And so it has taken me a few years to get to the point where I feel mostly comfortable with our approach and way of homeschooling.
I consider myself a relaxed homeschooler primarily for one reason. I do what works and avoid getting caught up in the quest for the right curriculum or using the right approach or listening to the right homeschooling guru. As one wise homeschooling mom said, “Give me something and I’ll make it work.”
No matter how much an expert might know about curriculum, no one knows my child the way I do. I’ve studied her. A lot. I’ve invested a great deal of emotional and mental energy into trying to understand what makes her tick.
No one knows your child and your situation the way you do. You are your own mini-homeschooling guru when it comes to homeschooling your child in your home. You are the expert or expert-in-training. By the time your child hits early elementary, you probably have a Ph.D. in her! The trick is finding what works for your child and you. It really doesn’t matter what the professional guru thinks you should do. You can do your homeschool any way you wish. The guru will never know!
Although sometimes I feel like we are unschoolers, we really aren’t. It only feels that way to me because of my professional background as a teacher where everything is regulated and structured. When I read about actual unschooling, we really don’t fit that. We do have some structure and it isn’t completely open-ended and child-driven. And so I think relaxed homeschooling is probably the best descriptor of where we are right now.
In this series this week I’m going to share my approach to relaxed homeschooling in the early elementary years. The topics will be:
I hope you will stop by and share your own experiences and wisdom each day in the comments section!